BY NIALL SHERRY
A 24th term in charge for BC
Following Monday night’s County board meeting, it was announced that Brian Cody would again take charge of the Kilkenny senior hurling team for the 2022 season. PRO Paul Fitzgerald released the following statement after proceedings had finished.
13th September, 2021
Press Release – Inter- County Hurling Managers 2022
Following a meeting of the Kilkenny GAA County Board on Monday night, Brian Cody has been ratified as Kilkenny Senior Manager for the 2022 season. James McGarry, Martin Comerford and Conor Phelan will be selectors for the season ahead.
At U-20 Derek Lyng has been ratified as manager for the season ahead, with Peter Barry, Michael Rice and Peter Donovan on board as selectors.
At U-17 Niall Bergin has been ratified as manager. A management team to assist Niall will confirmed at a later date.
Kilkenny GAA would like to take this opportunity to wish all our management teams and panels the best of luck in the season ahead.
With the ratification, the James Stephens clubman will surpass Meath legend Sean Boylan’s tenure as the Royal’s boss.
Following the last two championships, there had been murmurings of discontent in some quarters, the collapse to Waterford in 2020 and the extra time defeat to Cork this season, coupled with the county’s inability to challenge Limerick, the reasons cited for those in the ‘time to change’ camp.
There may be some support for change, but think about it – do you want to be the manager to replace the living legend that is Brian Cody? It’s possibly akin to stepping into Alex Ferguson’s shoes, and we know how that went. In the media, online and in print, names are now being bandied about – Heny Shefflin, Eddie Brennan, Michael Fennelly, to name but three.
Former players, teammates and pundits have all had their say – but I imagine the County Board would prefer if the manager called time himself, rather than someone assuming the role of Alan Sugar in ‘The Apprentice’ and delivering the punchline.
When Kilkenny Chairman John Healy appointed Cody on November 16th 1998 to take over from Kevin Fennelly, little did the hurling world know the success that would follow, or the period that Cody’s reign would span and continue to do so.
A winner as a player, both at schools, club and county level, it was inevitable that Cody would improve Kilkenny when he took the job. But by God, I don’t believe for a minute that the honours gained with Brian at the helm could have been imagined in our wildest dreams.
Let’s break it down. 11 (ELEVEN) All-Irelands. 10 (TEN) League titles. 17 (SEVENTEEN) Leinster titles.
That’s just a brief summary of the majors. But as we know, that’s all history. Liam McCarthy has not resided in Noreside since 2015. Let’s face it, when push comes shove, it’s all about Liam. Cody was appointed with the clearest of mandates – bring Liam home. That’s what the Kilkenny faithful demand, it’s what they expect.
There’s no doubt that the Treaty County are Cody’s cats of the late noughties. They are dominant. They are physically superior. They have a real bond as a team. They have a sprinkling of stars.
When Cody took over in 1998, the county’s last All-Ireland title had been in 1993. That unthinkable drought was ended in the Milennium year. It’s certainly a tall order to reclaim Liam in ‘22, but if the black and amber fall short next season, life without Liam will extend to seven years, and that will mean the longest separation from the top prize since the spell between 1983 and 1992.
Cody’s task as he prepares for 2022 will be to win the All-Ireland. Closing the gap and getting closer to Limerick may not suffice. Semi- finals are not the holy grail down Kilkenny way. The natives are restless. It remains to be seen if this is the last dance for Brian